Issuu on Google+

POWERED BY GLOBAL ADJUSTMENTS

April 2017 Volume 8, Issue 2

` 40

22

Leading by example Learn the art of giving by the day, week and hour from our thought leader Traci Morris

56

The Korean Connection What makes Koreans feel so at home in Chennai and India? Find out...


2

April 2017

culturama


culturama

April 2017

3

Dear Readers,

I have often heard this expression, ‘You can take me out of India but you can never take India out of me’. As we were going to print this April issue of Culturama I truly saw this lived out. Nancy Reisig was among our very special clients, the Human Resources Head of Ford India between 2005 and 2007 and she lived in Chennai assimilating our culture and way of life in and a beautiful manner. A few days ago I got a call on our office landline from her sister-in-law Robin Reisig saying Nancy was keen on having an article she had written about India published in Culturama. Robin told me Nancy was very sick. And she had traced Culturama and found me via the Internet. I jumped at the idea of publishing Nancy's thoughts all these years after leaving India. She had retired from active work

life and we had lost contact, I thought. But clearly Nancy was one of our silent readers enjoying Culturama online month after month back in the United States. When her article page was ready two days later, I e-mailed Robin to show it to her and to say we were praying for Nancy. She explained that while the Indian prayers were welcome, Nancy had stopped drinking water and there was no hope of her getting well again. This month’s Culturama is a tribute to global citizens like Nancy who carry in a corner of their heart a part of the culture that they are immersed in, no matter where they live. They are the true ambassadors of peace and understanding who, while contributing to economic growth, also sustain spiritual wellness. They bloom wherever they are planted. As per our Indian way of thinking I am sure Nancy will be reborn in a wonderful family in India to enjoy the culture, tradition and spirituality of our rich land. See her article on page 34. I hope you enjoy the articles in this edition which speak about growth and nourishment such as the photo story Green Revolution, the feature on India’s many weaves and the Indo-Korean connections in the article titled Korean Capers. We wish all our readers Happy Vishu, Ugadi and Tamil New Year in the South; Happy Baisakhi, harvest festival, in the North, and of course to our worldwide audience – Happy Easter. Ranjini Manian, Editor-in-Chief globalindian@globaladjustments.com

Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Senior Editor Lakshmi Krupa Creative Head Prem Kumar VP Finance V Ramkumar Circulation S Raghu Advertising Chennai Ambeka Deshmukh Bengaluru Meera Roy Delhi/NCR Ruchika Srivastava Mumbai/Pune Ashish Chaulkar To subscribe to this magazine, e-mail info@globaladjustments.com or access it online at www.culturama.in Chennai (Headquarters) 5, 3rd Main Road, R A Puram, Chennai – 600028 Telefax +91-44-24617902 E-mail culturama@globaladjustments.com Bengaluru No.: A2, SPL Habitat, No.138, Gangadhar Chetty Road, Ulsoor, Bengaluru – 560043. Tel +91-80-41267152, E-mail culturamablr@globaladjustments.com Delhi-NCR Level 4, Augusta Point, Golf Course Road, Sector 53, Gurgaon 122002, Haryana Mobile +91 124 435 4224 E-mail del@globaladjustments.com Mumbai #1102, 11th floor, Peninsula Business Park, Tower B, SB Road, Lower Parel, Mumbai – 400013 Tel +91-22-66879366 E-mail mum@globaladjustments.com Published and owned by Ranjini Manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028, and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600032 Disclaimer Views and opinions expressed by writers do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s or the magazine’s.


4

April 2017

culturama

Cover Image

Letters to the editor Culturama’s cover image this month features Traci Morris, CEO, BGRS. Turn to Page 22 for the article.

Advisory Board Members N. Ram is an award-winning journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu. He is Director of Kasturi & Sons Limited, publishers of The Hindu. Suzanne McNeill lived in India for seven years before returning to Scotland. She is a freelance writer and graphic designer. Liz Neisloss is a veteran journalist and writer who has worked for CNN based from Singapore, Chennai and at the United Nations in New York. She is now based in Mumbai. G. Venket Ram is an acclaimed photographer and the creative mind behind many a Culturama issue. www.gvenketram.com Annelize Booysen is a business consultant and social entrepreneur. She lived in Asia for more than a decade, which included three years in India. She is currently based in the United States. Namita Jain, founder of Jaldi Fit, is a leading fitness guru and a businesswoman who helms Kishco, a world-class cutlery brand.

Contributors

Dear Editor,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the fantastic feature on Women Who Inspire in the March edition of Culturama. It had so many women I admire including Oprah and Serena Williams. I also learnt about Neerja Bhanot’s heroic sacrifice from this article. Kudos! Frederica Carmel, Delhi

Dear Editor,

The article titled The Delicate Damsel of the Chola Temples was a great tribute to the beautiful Airateshwara Temple. The anecdotes and the research in this piece made for a great read. My best wishes to the writer. Krishnarajan Mathivaanan, Coimbatore

Dear Editor,

In this age of many misconceptions it is highly appreciable that you have set out to explain to the world, as well as to our people, the significance of our cultural symbols. The article on Fire in last month's Culturama was very good. I look forward to reading more. Venkatesan Subramanian, Chennai

Susan Philip is a freelance writer based in Chennai, and the editorial coordinator of Culturama’s various coffee table books. Eknath Easwaran (1910–1999) was a spiritual teacher, author and interpreter of Indian literature. In 1961, he founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation and Nilgiri Press in California. Devdutt Pattanaik is the Chief Belief Officer of the Future Group and a writer and illustrator of several books on Indian mythology. www.devdutt.com

culturama – Subscribe Now! Get your copy of Culturama as a hard copy or as an e-magazine - visit www.globaladjustments.com to subscribe For other enquiries, e-mail us at culturama@globaladjustments.com or call us on +91-44-2461 7902


April 2017

cure arthritis

pain

culturama

cramp

limping

cartilage

swelling sprain

joint pain

leg

stiffness

jointcramp

fracture knee cap

cramp

inflammation swelling pain

tendinitis

stiffness

painful

leg

cramp

painful

fracture limping

injury

cure

trauma

hurt

deformity

injury

cure twisted

arthritis sprain

running

fracture limping

cure cramp

deformity

injured

tendons

knee surgery

PAIN-FREE HASSLE-FREE

injured cramp

dislocationankle swelling sprain pain inflammation

ache

leg

tendons

joint

knee overuse injury

muscle

ligament

knee pain

arthritis deformityknee cap cartilage

osteoarthritis

joint

bursitis

sprain

inflammation

ligament tear therapy

joint

knee pain

cartilage

injury

fracture

painfulinjury

bursitis muscle legcramp sprain stiffness cure fracture arthritismeniscal tearinjury therapydislocation knee replacement knee cap

injury

osteoarthritis

twisted deformity

cure

bone fragmentinflammation arthritis joint tendinitis leg

The Apollo Evening Knee Clinic Mon - Sat, 5 p.m - 8 p.m

arthritis swelling

The Apollo Knee Clinic is a first-of-its-kind initiative that provides comprehensive solutions for people suffering from knee disorders. Key Strengths ǩPioneering excellence in orthopaedics care with the distinction of being ranked as India’s No.1 private hospital in orthopaedics ǩSpecialised knee care experts ǩ Prevention to early diagnosis and treatment, surgical intervention and rehabilitation ǩTimings designed to suit working professionals

EXPRESS KNEE SCREENING PACKAGE

ǩ Free Registration ǩ X-ray for both knees ǩ Ortho Doctor Consultation

For appointments call 044 - 2829 6481 For more information call 95512 55990

`1000/-

*20% discount on additional investigations. *

Terms & conditions apply

VALET PARKING AVAILABLE

5


6

April 2017

culturama

Contents

42 Feature Learn all about the evolution of India’s many weaves.

56

India Impressions

What brings South Koreans to India, especially Chennai, in large numbers?

34

India Diaries

A fun list of English words with unique usage in India.

India’s Culture 8

Short Message Service

Short, engaging snippets of Indian culture.

10

Festival of the Month

From Easter to Mahavir Jayanti and Baisakhi, April is a month of celebration for many communities of India.

Journeys Into India 62

Holistic Living

Desire for the company of spiritually oriented people comes naturally once we take to meditation.

16

Picture Story

Celebrating India’s green spaces.

Regulars

36

Culture Quotient

We reccomend films, books and TV shows.

Relocations and Property 70

Space and the City

Property listings in Chennai.

50

Seeing India

Wonderiing where to go this summer? We’ve got just the list for you.


culturama

April 2017

7


8

April 2017

culturama

SMS

by Suzanne McNeill Short cultural snippets for an easily digestible India

Art/textile/craft Gond The folk art of the Gond people, Central India’s largest indigenous community, is fundamental to their culture. Traditionally, the wall and floors of their houses are adorned with paintings that draw inspiration from their distinct pantheon of gods and spirits, and the natural world. Art is perceived as prayer, and the Gond believe that blessing comes to those who set their eyes on good art. They are not concerned with realism. Gond paintings are two-dimensional and naïve in style, representing in brilliant colour the flora and fauna of the forest, and they are imbued with a fantastical, dream-like quality. Traditional motifs, such as the tree of life, are a common theme and patterns of fine lines, dots and dashes represent natural elements such as seeds, drops of water and fish scales.

Word First class

Food and drink Mixture/Chevda

The expression ‘first class’ is used by Indians to refer to anything they like or that they think is really good. It is used very broadly, often in response to a question, and encapsulates more than a simple ‘It’s good’ or ‘I liked it’ – ‘first class’ refers to something or someone that is excellent, that is high quality, be it a movie, a meal or a meeting. So if a friend asks you, ‘Kaise hain? How are you?’ The enthusiastic response is ‘First class!’ This usage might come from the time when first class was the VIP mode of travel. And, of course, ‘first class’ is the grade every Indian aspires to when taking an exam!

Chevda, which is more commonly known outside India as Bombay Mix, is a popular crunchy bar or tea-time snack. It is a mix of dried ingredients including lentils, peanuts, dried peas, chickpea flour noodles, corn, puffed rice and curry leaves seasoned with a blend of pungent spices, and each mouthful offers a different mix of flavours. Black mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric and chilli powder are tempered in oil, then the cereals and nuts are added. These are fried until lightly browned, then flavoured with salt and cooled. Ready-made versions of chevda are sold across India; the mixture varies from region to region.


culturama

April 2017

9

Photo: Manfred ZINK, Germany

Name to know Dev Patel

Interpretations Wearing saffron

Aged only 26, English actor Dev Patel has already headlined several award-winning movies during his short career. His breakthrough role was in the drama Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, and since then he’s starred in several more India-based films alongside icons from British and Australian cinema, and Indian actors including Anil Kapoor. Patel was born in London in 1990 to a Gujarati Hindu family. His mother Anita was an important driving force – although Patel had received no formal training, it was she who spotted casting advertisements and took him to auditions. He began his professional acting career in a teen television drama series, Skins, playing the role of a BritishPakistani kid. When Slumdog director Danny Boyle was having trouble casting the role of Jamal Malik, his daughter, a Skins fan, recommended he audition Patel. Television roles in the United States followed, and Patel then went on to star as the young and eager Sonny Kapoor in the highly successful romantic comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) and its sequel (2015), and as mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in the biopic The Man Who Knew Infinity. This year Patel was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the adult Saroo in the critically acclaimed biographical film Lion. He made waves by taking his mother, who was dressed in a beautiful black sari, to the event.

The colour saffron is sacred to Hinduism. It is the colour of sunrise and sunset, bringing light and symbolising knowledge, and is particularly associated with Agni, the God of Fire that purifies all. Saffron robes are worn by ascetics and holy men to denote renunciation and sacrifice. Wearing saffron signifies detachment and freedom from worldly possession, and indicates that the wearer has left the material world to attain wisdom and enlightenment. The bands of ash and kumkum across the forehead of this Sadhu – the name given to those who have renounced the world and dedicated themselves to the pursuit of religious aims – denotes his dedication to Lord Vishnu, the Preserver. He also wears a string of rudraksha beads in devotion to Lord Shiva, the Destroyer of Evil. The dried beads are the fruits of the Utrasum Bead Tree. According to legend, Lord Shiva wept whilst meditating upon the forces of evil and the tree grew on the spot where his tears fell. Saffron is the colour of the top panel of the Indian flag, which is called bhagwa signifying selfless leadership. It is also an auspicious colour for Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.


10

April 2017

culturama

Festivals of India

Communities across India celebrate the beginning of a New Year this month. There’s also the important Jain festival of Mahavir Jayanthi and the Ram Navami, an important day for Hindus. Read on for more…

Ram Navami

April 5

Ram Navami, which is also known as Sri Rama Navami, is a Hindu festival to mark the birthday of Lord Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishu. In some places, the festival is celebrated for nine days, with prayers and concerts.

Mahavir Jayanthi

April 9

Mahavir Jayanti is observed by Jains as the birth anniversary of Mahavir. Known as Vardhamana, it was Sage Mahavir who established Jainism’s core tenets. The idol of Mahavir, after a ritual bath, is taken out in procession to mark the day. Jains believe in donating to the poor and needy on this day.

Easter

April 16 Easter is celebrated by India's Christian community as well, marking the resurrection of Jesus three days after his crucifixion. Worshippers head to church for a special prayer on that day.


April 2017

11


12

April 2017

culturama

Vishu

Tamil New Year

For people in Kerala, Vishu is the first day of the Malayalam calendar. The highlight of this occasion is being led blindfolded at the crack of dawn to gaze into a mirror. Cereals, rice, fruits, vegetables and coins are placed in front of the decorated mirror. Seeing images of wealth and prosperity first thing is believed to be lucky. This ritual is called Vishukkani or the auspicious view. If you are in Kerala or are visiting a Malayali home, don’t miss the sadhya or feast. The star dish is Vishu Kanji, made of rice and coconut.

Tamil New Year is celebrated in the state of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry, as well as by Tamils who live in large numbers in countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore, and beyond. It is celebrated in the Tamil month of Chithirai and is called puthandu. It falls on the vernal equinox and is declared a public holiday in the state.

April 14

April 14

Baisakhi

April 14 Baisakhi is the Punjabi New Year, celebrated in the state of Punjab and by Punjabis the world over. On this day, people thank the Almighty for the good harvest of the previous year and celebrate by eating a feast, listening to folk music, dancing, attending fairs and visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar.


culturama

April 2017

13


14

April 2017

culturama

Look Who’s In Town Mumbai

Mumbai Snapshots Canadian Megan Bond and her camera are inseparable companions in the bustling city of Mumbai A photographer’s dream is what Megan Bond calls India, although the dream did come true along with “an assault on the senses” and “overwhelming chaos”. Over the year she has lived in Mumbai, the Canadian has found the city to be an intriguing mix of religions, rituals and routines – and one that surprises her with its diversity. She never leaves home without her camera. “I know I will capture something interesting among all the hustle and bustle. A photo eliminates the distractions so one can really focus on the story behind the shot.” Canada, she admits, “offers beautiful landscapes”, but India is more about its people. She remembers her first visit to a national park: “Some strangers asked me to take a photo, which wasn’t an unusual request. I reached out my hand to take the camera but, instead, he passed it to a friend. As he scooted over next to me, I realised he did not want me to take a photo but wanted to take a photo with me. I couldn’t help but feel odd about being surrounded by people I didn’t know – while someone quickly snapped a photo of us like we are lifelong friends!”

Photo Trails The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a great place to photograph nature and people, especially during the monsoon season. The rains revive the lush and green surroundings and bring back the flowing waterfalls. A photo-walk in South Mumbai is essential. The old

colonial buildings, cobbled sidewalks, and large banyan trees make this area ideal for photographing iconic Mumbai. Snap some photos while strolling along the streets amongst the booksellers, and cane juice wallahs. Some of my favourite shots were taken during the festive seasons in Mumbai. The colour and revelry cannot be missed, especially during Krishna Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi in late August and early September.

Shutterbug Tips • Make it a habit to carry your camera with you. Mumbai is full of the unexpected and you will want to capture in a photo what you cannot explain in words. • Own a telephoto lens so that you can shoot a moment of ‘real Mumbai’ without intruding. • When taking photos of people, show them the shot – that always brings a smile to their faces. Do not be afraid to carry your camera in your hand when in public.


culturama

April 2017

15


16

April 2017

culturama

Rice Winnowing in a village. Photo: Secondo Balducci

Picture Story by Team Culturama

Green Revolution Pastures of verdant landscapes, the hint of a song in the air and the sight of women bent over fields.... These are among the most common sights you will see as you leave the hustle and bustle of India’s metros. Farmlands are representative of India’s economic backbone, agriculture. They also offer a refreshing change in scenario for those of us used to living in concrete jungles.


culturama

April 2017

A farmer ploughs his lands with bullocks. Photo: Chris Scales, USA

A farmer uses bullocks to lift water from a well for irrigation. Photo: Francois Boulle

Working on the paddy fields. Photo: Secondo Balducci

Two's company. Photo: Galina Zagumennova

17


18

April 2017

culturama

Portrait of India by Team Culturama

Jambu Lingam - Water Lingam - In the town of Tiruvanaikaval in South India, the presiding deity of the main temple is Sri Jambukeswar, also known as Appu (Water) Lingam (symbol of Shiva, the destroyer of evil). The temple sanctum, is in a low level, and is always damp with water. As one of the pancha bhutha sthalas (holy space of the five elements) a lot of significance is attached to this pilgrim centre. The deity is said to have been installed by the goddess Parvati. To signify that the Devi is worshipping the Lord, even today the priest wears a sari and performs the noon puja. Painting by Sri S. Rajam. Picture courtesy ‘Art Heritage of India: A Collector’s Special’, published by L&T-ECC & ECC Recreation Club.


culturama

April 2017

19


20

April 2017

culturama

India Sidelight The Kapaleeswarar Temple is located in Mylapore, Chennai. The name Mylapore has its roots in Mayil or peacock. The place had a large population of peacocks in times past. Notice the peacocks at the base of

s e y a i e d l l n A on I ght brou

the temple tower in the photograph. The temple is almost synonymous with the area. Just as famous is the Santhome Basilica, in another part of Mylapore. The name derives from San Thome or St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ apostles, who came to India over 2,000 years ago. The Portuguese first built a church in the place where a small shrine marked St. Thomas’ grave. British colonisers took it over and, subsequently, rebuilt it. At the main altar, there is a huge statue of Jesus. Perhaps in tribute to the location, perhaps symbolic of the way influences from other regions are absorbed and Indianised, two peacocks are featured standing at Jesus’ feet. This is one of the three shrines in the world built over the

u by to yo

remains of an apostle.

Temple at sunset Photo: Stuart Kinkade, USA 16

All Eyes on India

All Eyes on India 17

Cartwheels at sunset

T

his photo was taken on the hill above the Srivirupaksha Temple in Hampi, Karnataka. So often you have to manipulate your kids into a shot (or to smile!), but Imogen happily performed, cartwheels while we watched the sunset. . Photo & Text: Dougal Monk, UK

At Global Adjustments by Team Culturama

Hampi is all rocks and ruins now, but it was once the capital of the erstwhile powerful Vijayanagar Empire. Some distance away from this historic place, which is now listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, lies Chandragiri. It was the last bastion, so to speak, of the Vijayanagar kings. Ironically, the roots of another empire can be traced to this little town. The Chieftain of the fort town set in motion a series of events which changed the course of history in this part of the world when he sold a small tract of land he owned around 145 km away from Chandragiri to two officials of the East India Company. The Company used it to construct a harbor for trade, and a fort to protect its interests. They named this structure the Fort St. George. And that was the embryo of the British Empire in India.

66

All Eyes on India

All Eyes on India 67

A celebration of India new take on India, and will send readers, including Indians, along less-travelled paths of exploration.

As a part of Aikya 2017 Global Adjustments released a souvenir coffee table book titled All Eyes on India. From all across the globe, people are coming to India to be enriched by what it has to offer. With experience, we Indians have become adept at telling our guests about our country – its history, diverse religions, its dances, its flora and fauna, its architecture, sport, clothes, languages, and of course its cuisine. But often, we take for granted what the ‘new’ eye finds unique, interesting, thought-provoking.

All Eyes on India is an invaluable collection of snapshots of the many facets of our country taken by expatriates, presented in postcard form. Each postcard presents India from a unique angle. This book takes the ancient Sanskrit dictum, the one that India has followed all through the ages, Athiti Devo Bhava – the guest is god – to the next level.

All Eyes on India presents our country from an unusual perspective – that of visitors to this land. It represents a whole

We would like thank our sponsors whose support towards Aikya and this coffee table book has been invaluable.

Co-sponsors

Supported by

Media partner


culturama

April 2017

21


22

April 2017

culturama

What is the distance between the brain and the heart? Doctors might say it is about a foot. Traci Morris proves otherwise – for her, there is no distance as work and giving come together in a beautiful amalgamation


culturama

April 2017

23

Thought Leader by Anita Krishnaswamy

Deconstructing

Leadership

Those in the relocation industry know Traci as one of the biggest names in the business – she is Chief Executive Officer of Brookfield Global Relocation Services (BGRS), which is one of the biggest relocation companies today. Traci has also amassed many personal and professional accolades during her illustrious 25-year career. She was awarded the Global Mobility Professional of the Year award from The Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM) and recognised by Profiles in Diversity journal as a Woman Worth Watching for her leadership knowledge, experience and advice. Recently, Traci was inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame for her various leadership roles, including more than 20 years of service on the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut. She is Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors for The Denan Project, a humanitarian grassroots initiative. What is most interesting is that Traci brings to the table a unique mix of hardcore talent and an expansive outlook. She views her work not through the lens of money or position but as a means to touch as many lives as possible in the best way she can – be it in business or otherwise. As she stresses, “Each customer that is embarking on a move deserves to feel like they are the only customer we’re supporting. They’re in the midst of a meaningful change and we have the potential to


24

April 2017

Dr. George R. Dunbar Free Enterprise Hall of Fame, 2016

culturama


April 2017

culturama

25

give them peace of mind and assurances. It is a subtle form of giving yet the impact is lasting when a professional who is moving with his/her family can transition with ease and without anxiety.” This attitude is defined by a deeper trait – her deep, genuine desire to give. To give, not give back, I would like to stress. In her own words, “From when I was young, I have been involved with many different methods of giving… If I witnessed an opportunity to help – not just when people were in need but also those occasions where I could simply give some part of myself, I did – whether it was my effort, time, knowledge, or in recent years, donating financial support. None of the ways I have given have ever felt taxing – instead, I draw great energy from knowing that I have contributed.” It may sound simple but it is rooted in decades of living a life of kindness and compassion. Her words are also a stark reminder that giving is not an act that is dependent on one’s financial position or social status – “Now I am in a position, too, where I can write a cheque – although that’s not often what people need…Everybody has something to give. You just have to make the time to give it.” It is the same attitude that acted as the driving force behind The Denan Project. Through Traci’s and others’ unending sense of giving, a single community effort has spawned into a global humanitarian effort. What began around 13 years ago with a small eight-member team and a goal to raise 30,000 dollars to help one village in Ethiopia, is today a massive humanitarian effort that operates clinics and hospitals in Ethiopia, Peru, Burkina Faso, Mongolia and the United States. Traci stands as an inspiration for men and women the world over. From her advice on how to make your mark in an organisation to the greater goal of solving world problems, her nuggets of wisdom would stand the test of time and change. When you read through her responses, you might notice that some of the dots are connected by common lines – the desire to impact people in a way that is deep and long-lasting. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

I grew up in a blue-collar family and with parents who always set an example of giving

On Giving: ‘I am going to make a difference this hour, today, this weekend, this year.’ I grew up in a blue-collar family and with parents who always set an example of giving. Despite our humble home, we were rich with love and family, generosity and kindness. The ways that we gave didn’t involve giving money – because we didn’t have money to give! My parents were generous in terms of bringing people into the family, always helping our neighbours…and having an outlook that ‘making a positive difference is possible as long as you put your mind to it’. So, if it was anything – like helping the neighbours pour concrete to doing something in the kitchen – it just became a part of who I was. That early culture of giving that was instilled by my parents extended through my teens and beyond – where I gave my time and expertise, too, from Special Olympics to lesser known organisations. The cause


26

April 2017

culturama

was important, but more important was the opportunity to provide help to people. Later on, I extended what I learnt in school and from my professional training to helping others – such as balancing the books or conducting financial audits. That dimension is actually how I contributed early on with The Denan Project…The act of providing financial oversight was imperative and despite being conducted from a small home office on the East Coast. I knew I would make a positive impact and touch another life. In some ways, you might say that my hobby – or preferred way to spend my non-working time – is by giving. I have been so fortunate throughout my career to learn so much. Learning is made even more meaningful when I pass that knowledge onto others. Everybody has something to give. You just have to make the time to give it. And you have to consider how to make a difference this hour, this day, this weekend, this year. Providing financial support comes a bit easier for people. And, it is important. There is obviously a need for money, and it can enable a lot of things. But when you give of yourself, of your heart, when you lend your muscle, your brain, your leadership to a not-for-profit – that strikes a chord in a different way. The Denan Project: ‘Don’t make assumptions – help takes many forms.’ When Dick [Young; founder, President of the project] walked across the desert and went to a camp for refugees [located in the Ogaden region of remote south-eastern Ethiopia], he did something very smart. He asked the people in the community, ‘What is your greatest need?’ The people were living in huts; they had lost their homes and were congregated in this place called Denan. Dick expected a resounding response of ‘Food!’ He learnt otherwise and it became the basis of The Denan Project. Food would have helped but would not have provided sustainable positive change. The community had over 100 people dying every day. What they desperately needed was medical help. Dick didn’t


culturama

April 2017

27


28

April 2017

culturama

walk into that community thinking that would be the case, however. The lesson there is: Don’t make assumptions. Dick came back home after that trip and called together some friends and said, ‘Let’s figure out how we can help.’ And, that’s how it started. We were eight founding members and our original goal was to figure out how to raise $30,000, so that we [could] hire a doctor for one year and put the doctor in that community. It seemed like a simple start with a short-term fix – yet more than 10 years later, it has grown to become a major contributor to humanitarian relief and support of third world countries. I think one of the main lessons we learnt is that a small group of individuals can make a big difference. That success with The Denan Project serves as an example for how communities of people can help other communities. The relocation industry is also comprised of communities of people – and when you consider it, our global reach provides us with a platform to

I like a good challenge and I have always prided myself on never letting a problem overcome me

collectively positively impact more communities around the world. I like to think of giving this way: ‘If every person in the world decided to make a difference in just one person’s life, we would solve an awful lot of problems in the world.’ Each of us has something to give, no matter how small. The key question to ask yourself is, ‘What is the legacy you want to leave?’ On being a woman CEO: ‘Who can do this? You want to make sure your name is in the top five.’ The journey as a leader, as a woman, has not been easy. It’s not because I didn’t work for organisations that didn’t necessarily embrace women. It is because even the best leaders, including women, have an unconscious bias towards women. As a woman in business, you have to recognise that the bias exists – but then you have to make a decision… like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. The bottom line is this: It is not going to be easy. You have to ask yourself if you have the stamina to try – and if you do, you need to go for it! I like a good challenge and I have always prided myself on never letting a problem overcome me. Leaders need to be willing to figure things out. When I mentor other leaders – men and women – one of the things I always say is, ‘In your


culturama

April 2017

29


30

April 2017

culturama

company, if you have executives sitting around a table and they are trying to figure out how to tackle a problem… And they ask, Who can do this?, you want to make sure your name is in the top five on the list.’ So, how do you get on the shortlist? By bringing an attitude that [says], ‘I may not know exactly how to do this but there’s nothing my company can ask me to do that I can’t figure out how to do.’ When I first started leading the management of a relocation management company’s supply chain, it was very new for me. And I was being asked to lead that function! If your company is I could have thought, ‘My God! Do I really want trying to figure to do this?’ Instead, out who can I thought, ‘Here is tackle a problem, an opportunity for make sure your me to contribute name is in the top in a way I haven’t five on the list done before.’ From the leader’s journey: ‘What am I not thinking about now?’ I have been thinking back on my journey [a lot] recently. I have been very fortunate to win a couple of awards, and I have become a CEO.

SHU alumni award accepting with John Chalykoff Dean

shareholder and our industry?’ You have to be worried about what you are not worried about, because as CEO you have to worry about everything! Each day presents an opportunity to learn. On the Opportunity for Greater Impact

The truth is – we all have so much to learn from each Part of my success stems from being very conscious about other, and so much to give. This industry that we are in affords so many occasions to share ideas, help others and my values, what I had to contribute and emulating a certain extend the reach of our efforts. Yet, too often, we operate type of person – a person who gives, grows and drives for as fierce competitors. I’ve often thought about the impact success. I very much became a student of everybody around we could have by bringing the great minds in our industry me, and become very introspective about what I was really together to really create an innovative and powerful solution good at, and where my gaps were. for the marketplace. This would be our way of truly giving I had some great leaders to follow – leaders who showed back to the industry. That would mean that we would all be me how to succeed. willing to give for the greater good – to try to find a unique The leap to CEO was in some ways the biggest leap because solution for the marketplace – whether it’s the next big [I] now had to run things in totality – including areas I never offering to enable client success or a tech innovation that will had purview of. I wake up every day now and ask, ‘What am I revolutionise what we can achieve. If we came together to give not thinking about now? What is it that I am not managing? of ourselves to each other and to the industry at large, we’d How can we make a more significant contribution to our make a collective, global and lasting mark for the future.


culturama

April 2017

31


32

April 2017

culturama

At Global Adjustments by Team Culturama

Link. Learn. Lead Girl Power

Global Adjustments celebrated 22 years of empowering global citizens with a groundbreaking Aspiration to Achievement programme for young women from Tamil Nadu and Nagaland. This exclusive week-long first-of-its-kind workshop was conducted in March 2017 for 25 young women from Nagaland handpicked by us following an immersive trip to the northeast, along with 25 young women from Tamil Nadu. Not only did this empower these women but also acted as a great platform for cultural exchange!

What an amazing week-long journey. This one week has taught me things I have not learned in school or work place in the last 25 years. I never thought this was going to change everything – the way I think, walk, talk, see people, and most importantly, my life. Indeed it was superb. Thank you Chennai for being a marvellously beautiful city. I thank God for Global Adjustments and its people. – Yutho Sangtam We will spread the positive energy from this programme everywhere. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. – Archana Jairam Thank you so much for making us a part of this family! It has been an overwhelming experience for all of us. – Sentipolka Jamir We are now sharing everything we learned at the workshop with our friends in college. Everyone’s eager to learn from us! Thank you. – Pooja Mohan

To hold an Aspiration to Achievement programme in your institution, please contact foundation@globaladjustments.com


culturama

April 2017

33

Learn from the Bhagavad Gita by Team Culturama

Chapter 10 Capturing the essence of the Bhagavad Gita in a single sentence, one chapter at a time; accompanied by an inspirational photograph from our Annual Photo Competition.

See divinity all around. Photo: Bipin Khimasia, Canada


34

April 2017

Mixie

culturama

Do the

needful

g n i d d e h S d a Lo Updation

Prepone

Good Name

India Diaries by Nancy Hennigar Reisig

In-glish anyone? A fun glossary of words used in contexts that are unique to India


culturama

April 2017

35

I learnt a lot of new words after I came to India. Indian English is a combination of old British English and local common sense. Some of these words are infectious, and I fear they crept into my vocabulary permanently.

Here's a lexicon of some of the more common ones: Do the needful

this phrase is found in most official correspondence asking someone to do what is necessary to accomplish a task.

Ground reality

what's happening at the grassroots, what real people are having to deal with.

Prepone

opposite of postpone. This is one of my favourites.

Intimate

as in we will intimate when we are ready to consider your application. Loosely translated, means to indicate or inform. (used as a verb)

Eve teasing

harassment of women.

Good name

polite for name, as in what is your good name, please?

Load shedding

in Chennai and other cities with power shortages, it is a regular occurrence to decrease the voltage supplied to households during peak usage hours.

Flyover

overpass.

Head bath

a bath that includes washing the hair.

Updation

noun for updating, e.g. updation of records. Also used with upgrade.

Mixie

blender

Brinjal

Indian eggplant

Dry grapes

raisins

Capsicum

pepper such as green pepper

Resume

same meaning as curriculum vitae but pronounced like the verb, re-zoom.

Would-be

fiancé

Batchmate/classmate person from the same graduating year. All of these are heard and read in daily parlance. But my absolute favourite phrase is one I learned from our cook, Leela: Get upping – as in ‘What time is madam get upping?’

A tribute to Nancy Reisig, HR head of Ford India 2005 to 2007 whose sister in law Robin Reisig reached out to us to say Nancy desired to be published in Culturama. When we went to print, Nancy had stopped drinking water, our prayers are with her and her family.


36

April 2017

culturama

Culture Quotient

A culture guide with an Indian connection, for television, movies and books, handpicked by Culturama for its global audience

TV Guide Master of None On: Netflix Master of None is a comedy-drama web television series. The series, created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, stars Ansari in the lead role of Dev, a 30-year-old actor who attempts to make his way through life in New York City. Ansari's real-life parents, Shoukath and Fatima, play Dev's parents. Aziz Ansari was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to a Tamil Muslim family from Tamil Nadu, India.

Quantico On: Star World Quantico is a drama thriller series created by Joshua Safran. Priyanka Chopra stars as Alex Parrish, an FBI recruit, who after graduating from the FBI Academy joins the agency. She later becomes a prime suspect of a terrorist attack on Grand Central Terminal. Priyanka Chopra is an Indian actress, singer, film producer, and the winner of the Miss World 2000 pageant. One of India's highest paid and most popular celebrities, Chopra has received numerous awards, including a National Film Award and five Filmfare Awards. In 2016, the Government of India honoured her with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award.

The Mindy Project On: Comedy Central The Mindy Project is a romantic comedy television series. It follows a young doctor who is trying to balance her personal and professional life as she tries to become the perfect woman, with the perfect life and the perfect guy. Vera Mindy Chokalingam known professionally as Mindy Kaling is the creator and star of the sitcom. She is also an executive producer and writer for the show. Kaling was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Hindu parents from India Avu Chokalingam, an architect, and Dr Swati Chokalingam, an obstetrician/gynaecologist.


culturama

April 2017

37


38

April 2017

culturama

Book Guide The Rise of Sivagami Author: Anand Neelakantan From the pen of bestselling author Anand Neelakantan comes The Rise of Sivagami, the first book in the series Baahubali: Before the Beginning. The books are prequels to the Baahubali films. A tale of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal, the revelations in The Rise of Sivagami promise to grip the reader. Blessed by the sacred Gauriparvat, Mahishmathi is an empire of abundance. The powerful kingdom is flourishing under its king who enjoys the support and loyalty of his subjects, down to his slaves. But is everything really as it appears, or is the empire hiding its own dirty secret?

The Adivasis Will Not Dance: Stories Author: Hansda Sowendra Shekhar In this collection of stories, set in the fecund, mineral-rich hinterland and the ever-expanding, squalid towns of Jharkhand, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar breathes life into a set of characters who are as robustly flesh and blood as the soil from which they spring, where they live, and into which they must sometimes bleed. Troupe-master Mangal Murmu refuses to perform for the President of India and is beaten down; Suren and Gita, a love-blind couple, wait with quiet desperation outside a neonatal ward, hoping – for different reasons – that their blue baby will turn pink; Baso-jhi is the life of the village of Sarjomdih but, when people begin to die for no apparent reason, a ghastly accusation from her past comes back to haunt her; and Talamai Kisku of the Santhal Pargana, migrating to West Bengal in search of work, must sleep with a policeman for fifty rupees and two cold bread pakoras.

The Book of Indian Dogs Author: S. Theodore Baskaran The Book of Indian Dogs is the first comprehensive book on Indian dog breeds in over fifty years. It features the twenty-five breeds that most breeders and dog fanciers agree constitute the country’s canine heritage. Divided into three groupings – working dogs, companion dogs and hounds – the book provides detailed background notes to each breed, along with information on its physical characteristics, behaviour, uses, origins and history. Along with popular breeds like Caravan hounds (or Karuvanis), Chippiparais, Mudhol hounds, Pashmis, Rajapalayams and Rampur hounds, the book also features lesser known breeds such as the Alaknoori and the Jonangi. The fruit of several years of travel and research into India’s dog breeds, as well as S. Theodore Baskaran’s hands-on experience of raising various dogs, this celebration of our dogs is a book that dog lovers can’t do without.


culturama

April 2017

39


40

April 2017

culturama

Movie Guide Baahubali: The Conclusion Language: Telugu Baahubali: The Conclusion (The One with Strong Arms) releasing in April is an Indian epic historical fiction film directed by S. S. Rajamouli. Rajamouli is one of India’s most exciting filmmakers currently. It is a sequel to Baahubali: The Beginning. The film series is touted to be the most expensive in India till date. This long-awaited sequel to one of the top-grossing Indian epic historical fantasy films of all time, picks up again with hero Shivudu (Prabhas), as he comes to terms with his legacy and the responsibility placed on him by this knowledge. Shivudu’s quest aims to find the answer to the question that’s been plaguing fans of the franchise for years: Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali?

Kaatru Veliyidai Language: Tamil Kaatru Veliyidai (Breezy Expanse) is a romantic thriller set to release this April. The film is produced, written and directed by Mani Ratnam, one of India’s best directors. Featuring actors Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari in the lead roles, the film has soundtrack and original score composed by Academy award winner A. R. Rahman.

Poorna Language: Hindi Poorna is an Indian film directed by Rahul Bose, an actor par excellence, making his directorial debut. The film stars himself with Aditi Inamdar as Malavath Poorna, the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest. The film traces the story of a young tribal girl from Telangana, who overcomes modest beginnings to become the youngest girl in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The film was screened at the 2017 Palm Springs International Film Festival held in California where it was named on the festival's list of ‘30 Best Films’.

Movie tip: Many multiplexes run Indian movie shows with English subtitles on specific days. Call your local multiplex to find out when.


culturama

April 2017

41


42

April 2017

culturama

Feature by Team Culturama

Weaves of

India On the evolution of Indian clothing


culturama

April 2017

43

Clothes make a (wo)man The clothes we wear are not only a reflection of who we are but also of our past. In India, as with most other things, clothes too carry with them stories that speak of the country’s fascinating history. For instance, in the 1600s, a visitor to India would have seen nothing but saris, half saris, salwar kameezes, dhotis and headgear, all adorned in various styles across the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent by people belonging to different regions, castes and communities.

Sari interruption Forward to the present when Christian Louboutin shoes are made in India and there are malls dedicated exclusively to brands like Gucci, Armani and Louis Vuitton. What happened? Well, for that we need to start at the beginning. First came the British to colonise India and with them came the Victorian sense of morality. Perhaps, the biggest influence, one that continues to this day, in India’s clothing came under the British rule. With the introduction of the ‘blouse’ that is worn with the sari. How did we go from modest to modern?

Global desis Post Independence, various influences left their impact on the way Indians dress. Saris made of synthetic material (it was originally handwoven or spun using a loom), women wearing ‘Western’ clothes, men shifting to trousers, reserving the dhoti for home or festive wear, were all par for the course. Cinema played an important role as well. The clothing that movie stars wore on screen and off it caught the imagination of Indians. As did the style statements of various cultural icons through the years.


44

April 2017

culturama

The sari – then and now The Indian sari can be traced all the way back to the Indus Valley civilisation. Across the subcontinent there are around 80 different ways of draping the sari. Silk, cotton, polyester… saris are now made from a variety of threads using both powerlooms as well as handlooms. Even though the sari is the quintessential traditional Indian outfit (for women), modern Indian women and makers of garments are innovating by adding personal modern touches. Move over readymade blouses for saris (as opposed to buying a matching bit of cloth for your saris and getting a tailor to stitch a blouse to fit you), these are the days of the ‘readymade sari’. Instead of draping nine or six yards of a garment, you just have to quickly slip into a readymade version that comes with all the pleats, pre-stitched. Recently a sari with a zip pouch for storing mobile phones created quite a buzz, too! As did a dhoti, the long unstitched loose cloth worn around the waist by men, that came with Velcro!

Photos: Jaypore


culturama

ages of Asia)

(Im .V. Durandhar

Illustrations: M

The salwar story The default clothing of choice, across India, for women these days however is the salwar kameez. Women, young and old, are picking this over the traditional sari or half sari (although they continue to wear saris for festivals and weddings) for various reasons including comfort, social conditioning and aspirational values. This is a two-piece garment featuring a ‘salwar’, worn as a pant, and a ‘kameez’, which is worn on top. The word kameez originates from the French chemise, which refers to a shirt. The salwar is usually worn with three different types of pants. The ‘kameez’ is a loose pyjama or trousers, ‘churidar’ which refers to well-fitted trousers and a modern-day addition, ‘leggings’.

April 2017

45


46

April 2017

culturama

Kurta-pyjama for men More and more men too are now embracing the kurta-pyjama as the outfit of their choice when it comes to traditional dressing. The kurta is a long flowing shirt while the pyjama is a fitted trouser. A fitted jacket worn over the kurta, these days nicknamed ‘the Modi jacket’ because the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is seen in these often, is also a new popular trend.

Couture calling In the 1990s, when the Indian economy was opened up, more and more international brands started setting up shop in the country. This made it further easier for people to buy and wear modern clothing.

Back to the basics Even as rapid Westernisation in clothing continues in India, there is also a call to return to the roots so as to help revive India’s indigenous crafts. Indigo dyeing, handspun khadi, handloom cottons, tie-and-dye work, block printing… Across the country there are brands, individuals, social entrepreneurs and fashion designers who are working hard to bring Indian traditional crafts to Indians and the world. This is redefining the very idea of traditional Indian clothing. Today, you can buy Western clothing (dresses, shirts, blouses, trousers, etc.) made with handloom cotton, dyed with centuries-old Indian crafts. A simple handloom, hand-dyed or hand-embroidered shawl with a pair jeans and a shirt, can make you look desi today. Or even just a kurta paired with trousers.

Dress code On a regular basis, on the streets you can see people wearing all kinds of clothes – from the traditional (saris, salwar kameezes, dhotis and lehengas), to the modern (skirts, dresses, trousers and shorts). And as in most universities and schools elsewhere in the world, there is an ongoing tussle in India as well with men and women of authority trying to tell women students what they should and should not wear. This is particularly more pronounced in this era of social media where the clash of ideas, between the liberal and the conservative, is much more pronounced. Women have been pushing back and demanding their rightful space.


culturama

April 2017

47


48

April 2017

culturama

Learn a yoga pose by Namita Jain

The lying down spinal twist

A really relaxing twist. 1. Lie on your back. Bend your knees and bring them close together. 2. Drop both your bent legs to the right side and look in the opposite direction, hold. Then,

keeping both knees together, centre your legs and drop legs to the left side, looking in the opposite direction. Benefits: Improves flexibility of the spine and strengthens abdominal organs.

Postcard from India ishkesh, was taken in R The photograph usician, his For me, the m Uttarakhand. m was lours around hi flute and the co was passing d attractive. I an g in st re te in ake hen I saw the sn by this place, w snake was the basket. The coming out of lazy or , it was maybe moving slowly n was trying w the musicia tired. I saw ho ted. His ake more exci to make the sn moving lp much, it was effort didn’t he I wanted scaring no one. d an ly ul ef ac pe he songs ay his songs. T to hear him pl snake. than the poor ve ti ac tr at e or were m Brazil — Cassia Reis,


culturama

April 2017

49


50

April 2017

culturama

Seeing India by Team Culturama

Cool adventures As summer draws close we bring you a list of places to see in India while you escape the heat


culturama

April 2017

51

Uttarakhand Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, the location of this state is indicated in its very name – Uttarakhand – the Northern Land. If you’re planning a trip to Uttaranchal, give yourself plenty of time to take in its splendours. There are several wildlife sanctuaries to choose from. The Jim Corbett National Park is synonymous with tigers. Nainital and Mussoorie are hugely popular hill stations. Adventure lovers can try their hand at kayaking, paragliding and whitewater rafting. If you just want some peace, visit some of the remote villages that seem to be caught in a time warp.


52

April 2017

culturama

Himachal Pradesh Him means ‘snow’ in Sanskrit, and Himachal Pradesh, roughly translated, means the ‘Land of Snow’. The region was also once known as deva bhumi or Land of Gods. Replete with scenic beauty, this northern Indian State is a favourite holiday and honeymoon destination. The capital, Shimla, was also the summer capital of the British during colonial rule. It was here that the decision to partition the country was finally taken. Today, Dharamshala city is the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in exile, led by the Dalai Lama. Examples of Tibetan influence, breathtaking scenery, the only natural ice-skating rink in Asia (in Shimla), street bazaars in towns and cities, churches, temples, museums – there’s so much to see in Himachal Pradesh.

Lakshadweep Lakshadweep is a group of 27 tiny, coconut and palmcovered coral islands, found at a distance of 200 to 400 km off India’s south-west coast in the aqua blue waters of the Arabian Sea. The pristine white sands are surrounded by calm lagoons that are rich with coral reefs, attracting scuba divers and lovers of nature. Coral reefs are often called the rainforests of the sea, and form diverse and productive ecosystems.


culturama

April 2017

53


54

April 2017

culturama

Lakshadweep’s islands host a rich variety of aquatic life, including sea turtles, dolphins, octopus, sharks and many species of fish. Tourism in Lakshadweep is focused on the natural world of the beaches, the flora and fauna, and the marine life, and the islands are becoming known as a destination for water sports such as canoeing, snorkelling and water skiing. Concerted attempts are being made to minimise the ecological impact of tourism in Lakshadweep.

Kanyakumari Both sunrise and sunset are the attractions for visitors to Kanyakumari beach, at mainland India’s southernmost tip. Here is the spot where India’s three oceans meet, the Bay of Bengal from the east, the Arabian Sea from the west, and the Indian Ocean from the south, and thousands visit each year to see the sun rise and set from the same position. In April, during full moon, it is possible to see both the setting sun and the rising moon on the same horizon. As with the city beaches there is a pleasant general ambience, with hawkers selling sea-shells, ice-cream, tea and coffee to visitors. Kanyakumari is essentially a place of pilgrimage. Devotees are drawn each year to visit the temple associated with the goddess Kanya Devi, the local deity who guards the

shoreline, and to bathe in the sea where the three oceans flow together. Other beaches around the country have similar sacred significance.

Darjeeling Darjeeling in West Bengal is synonymous with tea production and the hills are a smudged canvas of emerald green bushes, stroked by rolling mist. There are many interesting places to visit, such as tea plantations, the Japanese Peace Pagoda and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Kids young and old will love riding the iconic Himalayan Toy Train, with the nostalgic smell of burning coal. West Bengal encompasses part of the Himalayas, the Ganga runs through it, and it borders the Bay of Bengal. It also abuts three other countries – Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. While in West Bengal do not miss a chance to visit the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, natural habitat of the famous Bengal Tiger and home to many endangered species, including Olive Ridley turtles, estuarine crocodiles, river terrapins and Irrawaddy dolphins.


culturama

April 2017

55


56

April 2017

India Impressions by Devanshi Mody

culturama

Korean Capers Caper The presence of South Korean industries in South India has as much to do with the business-friendly environment here as with the cultural affinity between India and South Korea


culturama

Once upon a time it was said ‘Hindi-Cheeni Bhai-Bhai’ but Korea-Chennai Bhai-Bhai might be closer to the truth, quite literally. The story goes that a South Indian princess from the Ayuta Dynasty went to Korea and married a Korean king to become the first queen of Gaya Kingdom. Unsurprisingly then the former Korean Consul General to Chennai Kyongsu Kim quipped at a Korean workshop at the InKo Centre in Chennai that when he first came to Chennai he felt very much at home because he descends from the Kim Dynasty and has a strain of Tamil blood in his veins… ‘When exactly did this Korean-Tamilian fairytale marriage happen?’ I ask Sanjay Ramjhi, a Korean interpreter. ‘Not fairytale, but history!’ Sanjay replies emphatically. Heo Hwang-ok is a legendary queen mentioned in Samguk Yusa, a 13th century Korean chronicle. The legend states that she arrived on a boat from a ‘distant kingdom’ and married King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya in the year 48 CE. Heo was a princess of the Ayuta kingdom identified only as a ‘distant country’ which some associated with Ayodhya in India, but Indian history doesn’t substantiate the legend. Moreover, the Indian city was known as Saketa, not Ayodhya, in the ancient period. Current scholarship in both Korea and Chennai has debunked views that Heo was North Indian and are working on establishing her extraordinary South Indian origins. Quite a story! As for how I met Sanjay, that’s another story. It’s a horrendously hot day and the person coming to pick me up arrives over two hours late, stranding me under the daggering sun on the streets of Alwarpet. So I stroll into a curiouslooking Korean restaurant called Cheong Ki Wa. I have said in a previous article that when I first came to Chennai in 2010 I was confronted by a language problem. I spoke no Tamil and not everyone spoke English. I experience anew the same language problem. But it’s not the ‘same’ languages now in question. I speak no Korean and the restaurant owner Choi Jung Ae speaks no English. After many indecipherable gesticulations she finally comprehensibly signals ‘wait’ to me. She vanishes and re-manifests with Sanjay. He spent time in Korea learning Korean, in Chennai he plays interpreter for high-profile Korean companies effecting business ventures in Chennai, when not running a culture club where Chennaikars who like ‘K-Pop’ and Korean films (there’s an astonishingly huge following) meet. But is Ramjhi a Tamil surname, I ask. Ramjhi is an abbreviation, no, not abridged to rhyme with kimchi, although Ramjhi’s family history is no less mixed than a pickle!

April 2017

57

Heo Hwang-ok is a legendary queen mentioned in a 13th century Korean chronicle. legend has it that she arrived on a boat from a ‘distant kingdom’ and married King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya Sanjay invites me to lunch at the restaurant. Alas, I have another engagement (if they’ll turn up!) and besides I’m a vegetarian and there’d be nothing vegetarian in a Korean restaurant. Sanjay smiles, ‘You’d be amazed.’ When I protest that even if they could make a vegetarian meal, I’m finically vegetarian and wouldn’t eat from a kitchen that used the same knife even for non-vegetarian fare. Sanjay reveals there are Korean Buddhists (I didn’t know they existed!) as stringent about vegetarianism as I. I don’t know too many vegetarians anymore but there’s a cultural similarity between Korean Buddhists and Tamil vegetarians. I interject that the Buddha himself wasn’t a vegetarian and was in fact food-poisoned by meat and that I didn’t know any vegetarian Buddhists. Sanjay says the Korean Buddhist is a purist sect, and if I know


58

April 2017

culturama

besides cultural parallels. As for the culinary aspect, apparently you can have a Korean equivalent of a thali.

There are 4,000 Korean expatriates in Chennai alone (the largest in India), and their average age is getting younger no vegetarian Buddhist he knows Korean Buddhists who’ve converted to Christianity just to consume meat, so severe are Korean Buddhistic injunctions about vegetarianism. I’m intrigued. Sanjay further informs me about linguistic similarities between certain Korean and Tamil words, alluding to ongoing research at universities both in Tamil Nadu and Korea. Mr Balasubramani, a Korean expert, is an academic in Chennai investigating Korean-Tamil links and can expatiate on the lexical genealogy between Tamil and Korean languages,

In Tiruchi, last October, the ex-Korean Consul General, Kyungsoo Kim, remarked that the significant presence of South Korean industries in South India had as much to do with a business-friendly environment here as with the cultural affinity between India and South Korea accentuating, ‘It is not simple coincidence that the majority of Korean companies are based in Tamil Nadu. The Korean people’s way of thinking matches well with the Tamil ethos. Like the Koreans, Tamils are well-educated, hard-working, and very friendly.’ The diplomat reminded that there were actually over 300 Korean companies within a 30-km radius of Chennai. ‘There are 4,000 Korean expatriates in Chennai alone (the largest in India), and their average age is getting younger. This clearly shows that we feel very much at home here,’ said Mr. Kim. Actually, Chennai’s Koreans feel a little more than just at home here. Sanjay evokes the luxuries they enjoy in Chennai that enormously surpass anything back home. I laugh that some British friends of mine extended their contract in Chennai because they live in a pooled and lawned villa by the beach and could never afford such extravagances at home. They even rejected moving to Singapore for they deemed the lifestyle in Chennai grander by far. ‘Exactly,’ Sanjay exclaims. He has asked several Koreans why they hazard the un-genteel climes and conditions of Chennai, an acquired taste,


culturama

April 2017

59


60

April 2017

culturama

admittedly, when they could be posted in America or some more ‘developed’ nation. The response is that the incentives are more restrained to go to a ‘developed’ nation, whereas if you opt to land up in Chennai you get landed with a villa, a few cars, chauffeurs and household help. Sanjay recalls a Korean lady’s villa where she presided with pomp with five household help. Korean children are educated in Chennai’s posh international schools as many companies pay for the education of their employee’s children. The trailing spouses are often found with their new international friends in cafes that seem to have opened to entertain Chennai’s Asian expats. Certainly, when the new hotel Feathers launched last year, with deliberate proximity to Sri Perumbudur’s Korean business concerns, a Korean lady, SunHee presented herself to the hotel’s GM Mr. Rupam Dutta offering her services as a Guest Relations Manager for Asians in Chennai. This was an unprecedented designation at any Chennai hotel but she presented her case so compellingly that the first thing that strikes me when I enter their all-day dining restaurant Water’s Edge is SunHee reigning over a sampling session with the hotel’s chefs, adjudicating their Asian cuisine and ensuring all is tiptop. She frequently orchestrates glitzy Korean galas at Feathers, whilst Exec Chef Lawrence, an Asian Photos: Feathers Hotel

cuisine expert, ensures Asians frequent the Feathers bars and restaurants. At the Korean restaurant Choi re-appears and conveys that just like Indians eat paneer, Koreans have tofu; hers has been brought expressly from Korea for an authentic flavour of Korea in Chennai. The plethora of Korean stores, restaurants and even bakeries leaves many visitors to Chennai amazed, especially as at many such venues the staff is ‘so much at home’ that they only speak Korean. But when I see Koreans curled over dosa, that will vigorously seal the Korean-Tamil associations. The profoundest similarity between Korean and Tamil cultures is impressed upon me when Choi asks me if I’m married (even I can understand that much Korean, especially when consolidated by unambiguous gestures). This is the most primordial enquiry a Tamil will make – alright, the second, the most significant question being ‘Saptaacha?’ with 5 fingers held together at the mouth. Choi quickly conveys that if I’m not married then neither is Sanjay and she seeks a bride for her friend. I can only respond that if a Tamil princess once went to Korea to marry a Korean King then she must import a Korean princess for her Tamil friend. Given the history, culture and language they share it could be a match made in heaven or at Cheong Ki Wa restaurant!


culturama

April 2017

61

milesworth holidays india • srilanka • maldives • and beyond

Milesworth Travels & Tours Pvt. Ltd., 39 R M Towers, 108 Chamiers Road, Chennai. Tel: +91-44-24320522 / 24359554 Fax: +91-44-24342668 E-mail: holidays@milesworth.com


62

April 2017

culturama

Join Us Every Saturday Global Adjustments Office, Chennai, facilitates a weekly spiritual fellowship group following Easwaran’s Eight Point Programme of Meditation. E-mail us for more information at globalindian@globaladjustments.com If you are in other cities, visit www.bmcm.org for e-satsangs.

Holistic Living by Eknath Easwaran

Finding peace with

meditation

Desire for the company of spiritually oriented people comes naturally once we take to meditation


culturama

Right from the outset, it is important to do everything we can to make self-realisation our primary goal. The transformation of personality is so difficult that to accomplish it we cannot afford to dedicate ourselves to other objectives and try to practise sadhana on the side. In the early days, however, this often means a change in some of our familiar activities. To rebuild our lives, we have to change our associations and our ways of living. This is painful at first. When I took to meditation I made a number of far-reaching changes in my life, which naturally baffled a lot of my friends, who began to look askance at some of these changes. They were fond of me and thought perhaps I was losing my ambition and my drive. What I did was try not to be affected by this, not in any way to be apologetic or to impose my views on others. In a few years’ time they saw the changes I had been able to bring into my daily living and one by one they would seek my company, perhaps to ask my advice on daily problems. For a while you’ve got to be prepared for questioning and sometimes even bewilderment from those who are near and dear to you. It calls, on the one hand, for a great deal of security within yourself and, on the other hand, for a great deal of discrimination.

Seek fellowship with other meditators Desire for the company of spiritually oriented people comes naturally once we take to meditation. We are beginning to change inside, often dramatically; it is natural that our tastes and desires should be changing too. As the desire to know ourselves becomes stronger and stronger, we’ll be looking in the paper not to find a good movie but to find a talk on meditation. When we go to a bookstore, we’ll pass by the bestseller tables to get to the religion or self-help sections. And we will be looking everywhere for the company of others who are dedicated to the spiritual life – not intellectually interested, but actually practising disciplines like my eightpoint programme. The Buddha would say that most people throw themselves into the river of life and float downstream, moved here and there by the current. But the spiritual aspirant must swim upstream, against the current of habit, familiarity, and ease. It is an apt image. We know how the salmon fights its way along, returning at last to its original home. Those

April 2017

63

who set out to change themselves are salmon swimming against the relentless flow of the selfish life. Truly, we need every bit of support we can get; we need friends and loyal companions on the journey. We have to do the swimming, of course; nobody else can do it for us. But there will be an easier and swifter passage if we can swim with those who encourage us, who set a strong pace and will not stop until they reach their destination. The burdens are shared, easing them; the joys are shared too, multiplying them. In Sanskrit, this sharing is called satsang. The word derives from two smaller words: sat, meaning ‘the good’ or ‘truth’ or ‘reality,’ and sanga, meaning ‘group’ or ‘association’. Thus it signifies the seekers of the highest, banded together. This kind of support is vital as meditation deepens. There will be gulfs where we have to leap across, precipices we have to climb just like a mountaineer. Climbers protect themselves by tying ropes to one another so that even if one person slips, the others can provide support. That is just what satsang means. I would also emphasise the need to be with people and to contribute to life around you. When you are meditating regularly, you need the counterpoise of being with family and friends. As you begin to taste the security and joy within, you may develop the tendency to bask in this inward state. From my own experience, I would say that this is just the time to turn your attention outwards. Unless we maintain close relationships with those around us, there is the danger of getting caught inside, locked within the lonely prison of the ego. To learn to live in harmony with others, to feel at home with everyone, we need the close ties of a wide circle of family and friends. None of us can afford to retire into ourselves and do our own thing if we want to become aware of the unity of life. You occasionally hear it said that spiritual aspirants should drop everything and set off for the woods, or go to India and wander about on the slopes of the Himalayas. But only through daily contact with people – not trees or brooks or deer – can we train ourselves to be selfless in personal relationships. When we keep company with those who are spiritually minded, we help each other grow through mutual support and example. Yet since we are all human, we give each other plenty of opportunity for developing patience too. Either way, we move forward.

Reprinted with permission from ‘An End to Loneliness’ by Eknath Easwaran from The Blue Mountain Journal. Copyright The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, P.O. Box 256, Tomales, CA 94971, www.easwaran.org. (Extract from https://www.bmcm.org/inspiration/journals/)


64

April 2017

culturama

Myth & Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

The Indian Sphinx There is no Sphinx in Indian mythology, except in South Indian temple traditions The Greeks believed in a world that moves from chaos to order, hence they yearned for culture. Forces that opposed culture were depicted as creatures that were half human and half beasts, the monsters, who had to be defeated by Greek heroes. One such creature was the sphinx, a lioness with a human head, who asks puzzles to those trying to enter or leave the city of Thebes and kill anyone who fails to answer, in effect everyone. The hero Oedipus answers her questions, and gets her to leave, thus saving the city of Thebes from destruction.


culturama

The more famous sphinx is, of course, the Egyptian sphinx which guards the Great pyramids. There is no sphinx in Indian mythology, except in South Indian temple traditions. Here, they appear as purusha-mriga, or the human-beast. Images of men and women with feet of a lion or tiger or sometimes deer are found on the walls of the many temples of Shiva and Vishnu in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The purusha-mriga serves as vahanas (mount) that carry the utsav (festival) murti (images) of the gods and goddesses in grand processions. A story of the purusha-mriga comes from the local Tamil version of the Mahabharata. Yudhishtira, the Pandava, was conducting a yagna (ritual). For it to succeed, he needed a purusha-mriga to be present. The mighty Bhima was sent to fetch such a creature. Bhima found him in the middle of the forest. ‘I will come if you can outrun me,’ said the creature, ‘You run first but if I catch you before you reach the city of Hastinapur, then you will be my slave. If I don’t, then I will do whatever you tell me to do.’ Bhima took up the challenge and began to run. The purushamriga followed. Bhima realised that the creature was very fast, so he had to use all his might to run faster. At the border, just when he put one leg out of the forest and into the city of Hastinapur, the purusha-mriga caught the other leg and Published in Midday. Reprinted with permission from devdutt.com

April 2017

65

declared victory. ‘You are my slave,’ he said. Bhima disagreed. As king, Yudhishtira was asked to judge. Yudhishtira said, ‘I will cut Bhima into two. You can have the side that you have caught and the other side I will take as mine.’ ‘Are you willing to kill your brother rather than let him be my slave?’ ‘Your half is a slave. My half is not. I am giving you half a slave.’ Purusha-mriga was not sure if Yudhishtira was being fair, or clever, or stupid. He laughed and said, ‘You have made me happy, so I will let your brother free and attend your yagna.’ So the yagna was successful and the purusha-mriga returned to the forest with many gifts. In another story linked to Shiva, the purusha-mriga has a name: Vyaghrapada, or the one with tiger feet. Some may argue that Vyaghrapada is not actually a purusha-mriga as he was born human and had asked for tiger’s feet. He was determined to offer Shiva flowers untouched by honeybees. So, he travelled through the forest and climbed mountains in search of these pure flowers, suffering greatly when sharp stones and thorns tore into the soles of his feet. Shiva offered him a boon and he asked for tiger’s feet to make it easier for him to travel through the forests and climb mountains with ease. Pleased, Shiva granted this wish and declared his image would be part of his temple iconography. Thus, we have the Indian sphinx on South Indian temple walls.


66

April 2017

In Focus by Preeti Verma Lal

culturama

Photos: All photos by Preeti Verma Lal

Fruit For A King


culturama

Mango. Summer’s sweetest five-letter word. Isn’t it? Would you drop a jaw if I say that the luscious fruit is almost 4,000 years old? No, not the one in your hand. The mango specie, actually. The first mangoes were born somewhere in the IndoBurma region thousands of years ago. I know now what the caveman called the fruit but early Sanskrit texts refer to it as amra. Chinese traveller Hsuan-Tsang who visited India in 632 AD was the first one to tell the world about mangoes. Aine-Akbari (1590) details the qualities of mangoes. The kings, certainly, were enamoured by this ‘King of Fruits’. Mughal Emperor Akbar planted an orchard of 1,00,000 mango trees, while Bahadur Shah Zafar’s mango garden inside Red Fort (New Delhi) was called Hayat Bakhsh.

April 2017

67

The mango is often said to be the ‘king’ of fruits – and was coveted by kings too! We share little known stories about the fruit – especially one about a 300-year-old mango tree that was not planted, but sprang from the earth as a blessing

Emperors. Noblemen. Soldiers. Plebs. The mango was everyone’s summer obsession. But if there were to be a joust for the biggest mango lover, a bearded poet would have scampered home with the trophy. No one can ever beat poet Mirza Ghalib’s mango love. For him, as the story goes, mangoes came before poetry. He wrote panegyrics to the fruit and long letters to his friends requesting for baskets of mangoes (at a rough count, he mentions mangoes in 63 letters). In Dar-Shifat-e-Ambah, he writes: mujhse poochho, tumheñ khabar kya hai, aam ke aage neyshakar kya hai (‘Ask me, what do you know. A mango is sweeter than sugarcane’). In India, mangoes are everywhere. Malihabad, a not-sostout village nearly 35 km from Lucknow, is touted as the country’s mango capital. Walk into the dusty village and there are mangoes everywhere. Even the air seems thick with the whiff of mangoes – lush, sweetened and blessed. Not too far from Malihabad is the village Dusseheri, whose claim to fame is the original 300-year-old Dusseheri mango tree. Ask a local and he’d tell you the tree was not planted by humans – it rose from the earth as a blessing! The tree is still the property of the Nawab of Lucknow. No ordinary mortal can savour its fruits – two stout men with oiled sticks in their hands guard the tree. Forget plebs, not even birds can peck at them. As soon as the first mango pops its head, the tree is netted. The fruits of this tree are never sold. They are hand-picked, arranged in a basket and sent to the Nawab’s family, which, interestingly, has a mansion called Dusseheri House. Mangoes. And more mangoes. You eat them all. But ever wondered about their names? There are some quirky ones, such as Langra (‘lame’). The mother Langra tree still stands in Varanasi. The story goes that the owner was lame. Emperor Sher Shah Suri gave the name to the Chausa variety upon commemorating his victory over King Humayun at a place called Chausa. The Goan variety Malgesh literally translates into ‘difficult to digest’ in Portuguese. Bishop (also known as

A signboard indicates the route to the 300-year old 'Dusseheri' tree. (Top) A 100-year-old 'Asroor Mukarar' mango tree on which 300 different varieties of mangoes have been grafted.

bispo) borrows its name from the large belly of a bishop, while Hilario, the hugely popular variety in North Goa, is named after Hilario Fernandes, in whose garden grew the original Hilario tree. Afonso de Albuquerque, a military expert who helped establish Portuguese colonies in India, lent his name to the pricey Alphonso. Ghalib was right. Aur dauayiae kias kahan, jane sheerin mein mithas kahan (‘What else can we do with first the imagination? Mango is sweeter than the best in life, nay, even life itself’). Who better to talk about mangoes than a man who has spent his life cultivating the fruit? Turn to the next page for an interview with Padma Shri Kalimullah Khan, whose name is synonymous with mangoes not just in Lucknow, but across the world.


68

April 2017

culturama

The Mango Man


culturama

‘Kalimullah Khan. Malihabad. India.’ A letter from the Middle East just had four words on the envelope. Days later, it reached the addressee. Padma Shri Kalimullah Khan, the old Pathan who is almost synonymous with mangoes in Malihabad. In the nation’s mango capital, you needn’t pull out Google maps to look for his four-acre Abdullah Nursery. Just mention his name and someone will direct you right to the gate of sprawling nursery where on a century-old Asroor Mukarar tree, Khan has grafted nearly 300 varieties of mangoes. Not only is the tree a must-see, it also found mention in the Limca Book of Records. In a phone interview from his home in Malihabad, Kalimullah Khan talks of his work and passion.

What’s so special about Malihabad that is known as the mango capital of India? Mitti ka masla hai (It is all about the soil). My great grandfather was the first to have an orchard during the reign of Wajid Ali Shah. Then Malihabad boasted of 1,300 varieties of mango. Now, I can hardly count 700 mango varieties in this tehsil. Here, nothing else grows. Malihabad is only about mangoes. Nothing else. Call it the Lord’s blessings.

How far do you trace your love for mangoes? I was never formally trained to be an orchardist. Perhaps it runs in my blood.

April 2017

69

Padma shri Kalimullah Khan has the last word when it comes to mangoes. Here, he speaks of his life’s work and passion But I look at mangoes differently. I have to improvise. Create new varieties. Abdullah Nursery, which only has 40 to 50 mango trees, is more like a laboratory for me.

Tell us about the famous Asroor Mukarar mango tree. In 1987, I started grafting on the Asroor Mukarar tree, which is now a hundred years old and has 300 varieties. Last year, I created a new variety called Namoh, in honour of Mr. Narendra Modi. Right now I am focusing on creating a mango tree that will bear fruit for at least eight months in a year.

What is your favourite mango variety? I have too many favourites. If I name one mango variety as my favourite, the others will be offended! However, there is something very exquisite and dainty about Chausa. So are Roshanara and Shamsul Asmar. Glass and Kala Pahar are really ugly to look at, but they are packed with so much goodness that if an ill man eats them, he will get off the bed and start running!


70

April 2017

culturama

4 Chennai Property Your solution provider for excellent quality rentals of home and office with 21 years of experience in ‘global adjustments’. Write to us at info@globaladjustments.com

Kanathur, ECR Brand New Commercial Space for Rent • Ground plus two Floors with separate passenger and service lifts • Ground floor – 4,000 sq.ft. First floor – 2,300 sq.ft. Second Floor – 2,000 sq.ft. • 50% power backup • Valet parking facility with 15 cars in the front and 25 cars in the adjacent area.

Modern elegance for luxury living This uber premium villa is located in Ranganathan Avenue, a private enclave of upmarket residences in Uthandi, ECR. This contemporary house with a unique design comes loaded with all the luxuries you will need in a modern setting. A pool deck on the first floor, a state-of-the-art Scavolini Kitchen, a chic, well-designed bar unit, are just some of the features that set this property apart.

• 8,600 sq. ft villa in nearly 17,000 sq. ft of land provides plenty of open space. • 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. • Has 100% power backup. • Ample parking space. • Living quarters with attached bath for live-in help. • Best in class workmanship.

Ideal for expats or corporate heads for whom a home is not a mere address but one that offers both comfort and a positive living experience.

For details, call 90032 57192 For more properties, call Global Adjustments at +91-44-24617902/+91-9500 111 777, or e-mail realty@globaladjustments.com Please note that any changes to the information above are done at the property owner’s sole discretion. Global Adjustments assumes no responsibility for such changes.


culturama

April 2017

71



Culturama April 2017